"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Dec 132020

From the Big Screen:


photo for Tenet Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. A soldier known for not breaking under torture is dead. At least, that’s what the masses believe. The truth is that there is an afterlife for some soldiers when they are retired from their roles in either war or everyday international espionage. In his afterlife, the man, a secret agent, receives an unbelievable mission: He must help others to prevent World War III. The threat isn’t nuclear. It’s something far worse. The only way to open doors and find the answers that he seeks is to know a single word. Of course, he must also remember that some events haven’t happened yet. Vitals: Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, John David Washington, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clemence Poesy, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Fiona Dourif, Himesh Patel, Andrew Howard, Wes Chatham, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan. CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 150 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $56.300 million US; $353.7 worldwide, Warner. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, Digital. Extras: “Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenet.” 3 stars


photo for Infidel While attending a religious conference in the Middle East, American journalist Doug Rawlins (Jim Caviezel) is kidnapped and held hostage by the Iranian regime and put on trial for trumped-up charges of espionage. With no help from her State Department connections, Doug’s wife Liz (Claudia Karvan) decides to take matters into her own hands to find her husband and bring him home. Inspired by true events and ripped from today’s headlines. Vitals: Director: Cyrus Nowrasteh. Stars: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan, Stelio Savante, Bijan Daneshmand, Isabelle Adrian. CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Action, Box office gross: $4.050 million, Universal. Extras: Commentary. 3 stars

This Week’s Best Bets

A pulse-pounding love letter to 1950s creature features that delivers horror and humor in equal measure, “Tremors” (1990) is a bonafide cult classic that has grabbed audiences’ affections ever since its release and spawned a successful franchise that continues to this day. Good-ol’-boy handymen Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are sick of their dead-end jobs in one-horse desert town Perfection, Nevada (population: 14). Just as they’re about to escape Perfection forever, however, things start to get really weird: half-eaten corpses litter the road out of town; the phone lines stop working; and a plucky young scientist shows evidence of unusually strong seismic activity in the area. Something is coming for the citizens of photo for Tremors [Limited Edition]Perfection … and it’s under the goddamn ground. Bursting with indelible characters, quotable dialogue and jaw-dropping special effects, “Tremors” is back and bigger than ever in this new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director Ron Underwood and director of photography Alexander Gruszynski. In a Limited Edition two-disc Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, with a 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Kim Newman and Jonathan Melville and selected archive materials, large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank; small fold-out double-sided poster featuring new Graboid X-ray art by Matt Frank; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards; limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … Judy Garland headlines this joyous slice of Americana, “The Harvey Girls” (1946), celebrating the “Harvey House” restaurants that brought extra helpings of civilization to the Old West. Famed M-G-M musical producer Arthur Freed brought together an impressive cast of talents for this box-office hit which features a delightful original score by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Johnny Mercer, who earned an Oscar for their On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe as the Best Song of 1946. Garland once again shares the screen with her “Oz” co-star Ray Bolger, clowns with Virginia O’Brien, falls photo for Young Man With a Horn BLU-RAY DEBUT in love with leading man John Hodiak, and faces off against wicked saloon gal Angela Lansbury in one of the most entertaining and enduring musical classics to come from Metro’s golden age, now fully restored to its original Technicolor luster for its Blu-ray debut. New 2020 1080p HD restoration from 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. From Warner Archive … With a secondhand trumpet and the loving guidance of a brilliant bluesman, a lonely boy grows into manhood as a superb musician whose talent carries him from honky-tonks to posh supper clubs in “Young Man With a Horn” (1950). But his desperate search for an elusive high note – trapped in his mind but impossible to play – starts him on a boozy downward slide. Charged with dynamic performances by Kirk Douglas (the title role), Doris Day, Lauren Bacall and Hoagy Carmichael, and pitch-perfect direction by Michael Curtiz, the film is a feast of hot, cool, moody jazz. Legendary Harry James dubbed Douglas’ hornwork. Day brings another fine instrument – her voice – to four standards. Movie and music lovers will be glad to meet this Man. New 2020 1080p HD remaster from photo for Amores Perros 4K scan of original nitrate elements. On Blu-ray from Warner Archive … Sending shock waves through the Mexican film industry and the world, “Amores perros” (2000), the blistering feature debut from Alejandro González Iñárritu, brought the director’s electrifying visual style and bravura multistrand storytelling to the screen with the heart-stopping impact of a primal scream. In Mexico City, the lives of three strangers — a young man (Gael García Bernal) mixed up in the gritty underworld of dogfighting, a glamorous woman (Goya Toledo) who seems to have it all, and a mysterious assassin (Emilio Echevarría) who is desperate to reconnect with his estranged daughter — collide in a tragic twist of fate that forever alters their personal journeys. A tour de force of violence and emotion captured in a rush of kinetic handheld camera work, “Amores perros” is an unforgettable plunge into a world of brutality and aching, interconnected humanity. On DVD, Blu-ray, with new 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Alejandro González Iñárritu and director of photography Rodrigo Prieto, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, from The Criterion Collection … In photo for Vigilante “Vigilante” (1982), starring Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Carol Lynley, Woody Strode, Joe Spinell and Willie Colón, New York City factory worker Eddie Marino (Forster) is a solid citizen and regular guy, until the day a sadistic street gang brutally assaults his wife and murders his child. But when a corrupt judge sets the thugs free, Eddie goes berserk and vows revenge, enforcing his own kind of law, with swift and violent home-made justice. In a new restoration, scanned in 4K 16-bit from the original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. In a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo. From Blue Underground.

From TV to Disc:

“Avenue 5: The Complete First Season” (2020) is an HBO comedy set 40 years into the future when travelling the solar system is no longer the stuff of sci-fi fantasy but a booming, multibillion-dollar business. The series stars Hugh Laurie as Ryan Clark, the confident and suave captain of “Avenue 5” – a space cruise ship with luxury amenities like gourmet buffets, a spa, an observation deck and yoga classes. Among the 5,000 passengers and crew on board are billionaire Herman Judd (Josh Gad), the mercurial face and name behind Avenue 5; Judd’s right-hand-woman Iris Kimura (Suzy Nakamura); head of customer relations Matt Spencer (Zach Woods); engineer Billie McEvoy (Lenora Crichlow); and strong-willed passenger Karen Kelly (Rebecca Front). Monitoring Avenue 5 from the ground is Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird), the seen-it-all head of Judd Mission Control. As the series begins, Avenue 5’s eight-week journey around Saturn is underway and its systems are optimal. But when the ship suddenly encounters technical difficulties, it’s up to Ryan and his crew to calm the disgruntled passengers and find a way to deal with unexpected events onboard – though they may or may not be equipped for the task. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner Archive.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

While out hiking, Special Forces Brenner Baker and her husband stumble upon an illegal drug compound in “Army of One” (2020), starring Ellen Hollman, Matt Passmore, Geraldine Singer, Gary Kasper and Cam Bowen. The drug dealers capture them, kill her husband, and leave her for dead … but they should have made sure they finished the job. Now, 1st Lieutenant Brenner Baker of the Army’s 75th Ranger Division is on a one-woman killing mission carving up everyone in her path until there is only one person standing, her. From Uncork’d Entertainment … photo for Beasts Clawing at Straws “Beasts Clawing at Straws” (2020 — South Korea), starring Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Woo-sung and Bae Sung-woo, is a wild crime thriller about a bag of money left in a sauna and the eight strangers who, spurred by blinding greed, become intricately and dangerously involved with each. A Luis Vuitton bag stuffed full of cash sends a group of hard-luck lowlifes on a desperate chase for the fortune in this pitch-black neo-noir crime thriller. Fish-mongering gangsters, a greasy cop, an “innocent” gym cleaner, a prostitute, her wife beater of a husband, her ruthless boss and her clueless boyfriend all violently scheme to get their hands on the elusive bag. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation Films … “The Call” (2020), starring Lin Shaye, Tobin Bell and Chester Rushing, is set in the fall of 1987 during which a group of small-town friends must survive the night in the home of a sinister couple after a tragic accident occurs. Needing only to make a single phone call, the request seems horribly ordinary until they realize that this call could change their lives … or end them. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Cinedigm … photo for The Opening Act In “The Opening Act” (2020), starring Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Moffat, Cedric The Entertainer, Neal Brennan, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Will Chu (Yang) is stuck in a thankless job while trying to pursue his true passion in life, becoming a stand-up comedian. When he gets the opportunity he’s been waiting for, the emcee slot on the road opening for his hero Billy G., the realities of life on the stage come crashing down. Between relentless hecklers, drunk comedy groupies and hard-to-impress morning radio DJs, things get off to a rough start. Even if he can learn from his idols and overcome the challenges, he’ll have to prove he has what it takes to make his dream a reality. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Torched” (2004), starring Michelle Boback, Tamara Pender and Daniel Lomas, Deanna, a young, pretty and upwardly mobile nurse is about to face the most difficult challenge of her life … deciding whether five men should live or die. Deanna was brutally raped, but the pain she suffered is nothing compared to that which her five suspects are about to endure. One by one, Deanna avenges her rape. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Unearthed Films … In “The Beach House” (2019), starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Maryann Nagel and Jake Weber, hoping to reignite their relationship, college students Emily (Liberato) and Randall (Le Gros) arrive at their weekend getaway only to discover a peculiar older couple already staying there. They all agree to share the home but, after an indulgent night of partying, they awake to a living nightmare of apocalyptic proportions. A mysterious airborne microbe has infected the water and it’s making its way to the house. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … photo for Mutiny “Mutiny” (1952), directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Mark Stevens, Angela Lansbury and Patric Knowles, is set during the War of 1812 when the United States, in need of gold, arranges with a French group to lend the government $10 million in bullion. To bring the gold here, an American ship must break through the British blockade. A young captain accepts the dangerous assignment and after several narrow escapes, the ship finally reaches France. No sooner is the gold aboard the American ship when the crew mutinies and sets the captain adrift, giving him one chance in a thousand to reach shore. However, the captain survives his watery experience, returns with the American Navy and recaptures his vessel. A British warship arrives on the scene, but one of the men volunteers to torpedo the enemy in an untried submarine made for a two-man crew. The mission is successful, and the gold eventually reaches America. First time on Blu-ray. Produced from a new restoration re-mastered from the original 35mm negatives in 4K, in gorgeous Technicolor. Also on DVD, from VCI Entertainment … On a secluded farm, a man is bedridden and fighting through his final breaths while his wife slowly succumbs to overwhelming grief in “The Dark and the Wicked” (2020), starring Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr. and Xander Berkeley. Siblings Louise and Michael return home to help, but it doesn’t take long for them to see that something’s wrong with mom — something more than her heavy sorrow. Gradually, they begin to suffer a darkness similar to their mother’s, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that an evil entity is photo for Echo Boomerstaking over their family. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … In “Echo Boomers” (2020), starring Patrick Schwarzenegger, Gilles Geary, Hayley Law, Jacob Alexander, Oliver Cooper, Kate Linder, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon, recent college graduate Lance Zutterland (Schwarzenegger) leaves school in debt, realizing everything he had worked towards was built on a lie. When he is pulled into a criminal operation, he finds his peers fighting the system by stealing from the rich and giving to … themselves. With nothing to lose, they leave behind a trail of destruction … but with the cops closing in, tensions mount and Lance soon discovers he is in over his head with no way out. From Paramount … In “Dragon Soldiers” (2020), starring Ruben Pla, Antuone Torbert and Heath C. Heine, when locals start vanishing from a small Colorado town, the mayor hires a squad of elite mercenaries to fight off the menace — whoever or whatever it may be. Leader Cameron (Pla) and his team suspect a ruthless gang of mercenary survivalists … until they come face to face with a massive, airborne, fire-breathing reptile. Now, stopping the creature and surviving the attacks will take weapons, explosives, and gunfire, along with every ounce of courage they have left. From Lionsgate.

On the Indie Front:

In “Aviva” (2020 — US/France), starring Bobbi Jene Smith, Zina Zinchenko, Or Schraiber and Tyler Phillips, Aviva is a young Parisian who develops an online romance with a New Yorker named Eden. After a long-distance courtship they meet in person, fall in love, and eventually marry. The two lovers are played by four different dancer/actors simultaneously. As the young relationship grows, the lovers struggle as their shifting masculine and feminine sides battle for primacy — both inside and outside their bodies, as expressed through movement and dialogue. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Strand Releasing.

Foreign Films:

In “My German Friend” (2012 — Argentina/Germany) starring Celeste Cid, Benjamin Sadler and Max Riemelt, a German-Jewish girl and the son of an exiled Nazi colonel form an enduring bond in Argentina in this love story that distills 30 years of personal and political postwar history. The film opens in 1950s Buenos Aires where Jews and Nazis, having photo for My German Friend fled Europe, are thrown together in a foreign land. As the children of affluent German emigrants, Sulamit Löwenstein (Cid) and Friedrich Burg (Riemelt) first meet as next door neighbors and become instant friends. Only later does Friedrich learn that his father was a high-ranking SS officer. Determined to break with his family, he moves to Germany to immerse himself in radical student politics. Sulamit follows and a romance briefly blossoms, but Friedrich’s commitment to political activism leaves no room for love. When he returns to Argentina to join an anti-government guerilla movement and disappears without a trace, Sulamit embarks on a search to find him, and heal her heart and the wounds of the past. Partly based on people and events from her own life, writer-director Jeanine Meerapfel delivers an intimate and humane examination of a guilt-ridden generation seeking to escape the mistakes and legacy of their forbearers. From Corinth Films … “Where I Belong” (2014 — Austria/UK), starring Katy Bartrop, Adrian Chisholm, Charis-Elizabeth Deighton and Matthias Habich, is a post-WWII tragic drama. The politics of the Third Reich drove thousands into exile. For many, England was the first safe haven. When the war came to an end the world photo for Where I Belongas they knew it had changed forever. Many of them would not return to their homeland. Rosemarie is a hard-working young woman living in a small English town in the 1950’s. She left Austria with her father during the war to escape the Nazi oppression and since then, despite poverty and loneliness, she has always kept the faith that better days would arise. When she meets Anton, one of her father’s friends, she immediately falls in love and starts believing in a fortunate destiny with him. Against all impediments, their secret love affair may help Rosemarie to find out where she really belongs. From Corinth Films … In “Robo” (2019 — Russia), starring Daniil Izotov, Vladimir Vdovichenkov and Sergey Bezrukov, 12-year-old Mitya Privalov dreams of becoming a superhero comics artist. But his robotics engineer parents want him to follow in their footsteps. Mitya never would have imagined that he’d find support and understanding in the rescue robot created by his parents — A-112, or Robo for short. The two of them have amazing adventures together as Robo learns to believe in himself and his dreams and teaches Mitya courage and responsibility. From MPI Media … photo for Frau Stern In “Frau Stern” (2019 — Germany), starring Ahuva Sommerfeld, Kara Schröder and Pit Bukowski, 90-year-old Frau Stern is in remarkable shape for a woman her age. Her physical health is excellent, her daughter and granddaughter are doting on her, her hairdresser supplies her with recreational drugs and she is surrounded by friends who are still in their 20s. But the Holocaust survivor from Berlin has had enough: she desperately wants to die. With a wonderful performance from the late Sommerfeld, “Frau Stern” is a sad yet funny meditation on life, death and everything in between. From Film Movement … In “Trompie” (1975 — South Africa), Trompie and three of his mischief-making friends make up a neighborhood gang of which he’s the captain. They’re typical 12 year-olds, full of brilliant ideas and escapades. Whenever Trompie finds himself in a pickle, he talks his way out of trouble, repentant or not. Based on the books by Topsy Smith. Set in 1970’s Apartheid South Africa. Part of IndiePix Films’ Retro Afrika photo for Upondo and Nkinselacollection, comprised of digitally-remastered classic Apartheid-era films, produced by and starring native South Africans, paying homage to Hollywood action, in a groundbreaking B-movie style, a precursor to today’s burgeoning Nollywood industry. In Afrikaans with English subtitles. From IndiePix Films … In “Upondo and Nkinsela” (1984 — South Africa), Upondo and Nkinsela are two haphazard, dysfunctional friends who end up going on a series of crazy adventures. From ruining a bride’s wedding day to destroying a client’s hairdo in a beauty salon, to escaping a ghost, the two friends always seem to come out on top despite the havoc they cause everywhere they go. A madcap Apartheid-era South African caper, part of IndiePix Films’ Retro Afrika collection, comprised of digitally-remastered classic Apartheid-era films, produced by and starring native South Africans. In Zulu with English subtitles. From IndiePix Films.

Special Interest:

“White Riot” (2019): Britain, late-1970s. Punk is exploding. The country is deeply divided over immigration. The National Front, a far-right and fascist political party, is gaining strength as politicians like Enoch Powell push a xenophobic agenda. Outraged by a racist speech from Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders writes a letter to the music photo for White Riot press, calling for rock to be a force against racism. NME, Melody Maker, and Sounds all publish the letter. Flooded with responses, Red discovers many share his views. Teaming up with like-minded creatives Roger Huddle, Kate Webb, Syd Shelton and Australian graphic designer Ruth Gregory, the team bands together to create Rock Against Racism (RAR) and a fanzine, Temporary Hoarding. Speaking directly to the youth, Temporary Hoarding reports stories and issues that the mainstream British media ignores, like immigration, the Catholic side of the Northern Ireland conflict, and the police’s controversial “suspected persons” (sus) powers. They give a voice to the voiceless. The National Front begins to strike back, committing acts of violence against RAR supporters and petrol-bombing their HQ. Despite this, RAR spreads virally across the UK and into Europe, becoming a grassroots youth movement. The Clash, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson and other top bands of the day jump on board. “White Riot” is a moment in time when music changed the world. When a generation challenged the status quo. It’s Woodstock meets the March on Washington, punk-style. From Film Movement.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on December 13, 2020  Add comments

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